What we commonly refer to as 'chronic guilt' could more accurately be described as 'habituated guilt' or 'patterns of guilt'. Because 'chronic' almost implies illness or disease; something we have no control over.
When it comes to guilt, nothing could be further from the truth.
No one is born with feelings of guilt. Guilt must be learned. Over time, it becomes habituated. Which means patterns become laid in the subconscious. Usually this happens in childhood, but the 'chronic guilt' can last a lifetime if no steps are taken to end it.
But before it can be ended, you first need to understand why you might want to keep it around. Even though you were taught and conditioned to feel guilt, you're also getting something out of your guilt. It serves a purpose. It provides a payoff.
When you understand your payoff for feeling guilty, you've just taken the first step to ending it.
In a general sense, we use guilt as a way to avoid the intensity of our own feelings. It's a way to avoid the responsibility of feeling our true feelings.
More specifically, guilt often comes down to anger we don't have a right to have. Somebody gives you a hard time. And darn it - they're right. You're wrong. Rather than feeling the anger that naturally arises - you feel guilty instead. That's one example.
When it comes to chronic guilt - you find yourself continuously creating scenarios where it seems the most appropriate response involves feeling guilty. It becomes a pattern.
You keep finding yourself in situations that 'make' you feel guilty. The settings may change - the people may change - but the energy behind the guilt goes on and on.
"Why in the world do I keep feeling guilty??!", you may ask.
The answer lies with two factors:
1. Your payoff; what you secretly 'get' out of feeling guilty rather than feeling your true, intense feelings that lie beneath the guilt.
Often it's simply a fear of intensity... and a fear of feelings in general. So your payoff would be avoidance - avoiding your own intensity.
2. Your subconscious patterns; which become neurological pathways of 'least effort'.
Just as it's often easier to take the interstate when you wish to visit another city, so it's easier to feel guilt rather than to relish and savor the depths of your true feelings.
Not because guilt is inherently easier. It's not. Quite the opposite, in fact. Guilt took a lot of effort. It never comes naturally. You had to work at it over and over and over.
Guilt took practice. It also required a teacher. You had to be molded and shaped and formed.
Since the training to feel guilt began so early in life, you may remember very little of it. But it's important to keep in mind: your brain started as 'virgin territory'... just waiting for those pathways to be laid. And now, you have many, many different kinds of pathways.
Chronic guilt serves as only one of countless examples.
When you think about it, even your 'payoff' for guilt sources itself in your subconscious pathways. So even when you WANT to end the guilt, it seems impossible. Not because you're weak or defective, but due to the nature of the subconscious.
Your subconscious seeks consistency. And the consistency is enforced by your neurological pathways. But there are ways to change. It starts by looking at your own unique payoff for feeling guilty. Understand how it contributes to the problem Then work on creating new pathways.
By creating new pathways of 'least effort' you'll naturally feel your true feelings rather than the current default of chronic guilt.
You create new pathways in two main ways:
1. Develop the habit of making powerful choices.
One powerful choice can change your life. In fact, it already has. You made many powerful choices and decisions as a child which profoundly shaped the direction of your life.
2. Work with your subconscious mind.
Your subconscious exerts a powerful influence over your life right now. It's hard to fight it. You'll be much better off working WITH your subconscious - harnessing and directing it's power.
If you feel chronic guilt, and you can't seem to change it - then you're seeing an example of the power your subconscious holds over you.
Fortunately, your subconscious can become one of your greatest allies in life. Don't fight it. Let it serve you - as it was intended to do.